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Stockton Children's Book of the Year - WINNER!!!

A while ago, I received a fabulous email from Stockton-on-Tees library service. The librarians had chosen Cat Burglar to be one of their nominated books for Stockton Children's Book of the Year Award 2017. I couldn't believe it. There was so much dancing around the kitchen with leaping and excited yelps.

So on March 20th, I packed my bags full of grappling hooks, night vision goggles, and alligators  - things you always need when going on a trip - and drove six hours to Stockton.

I was met by the lovely Lucy Carlton-Walker who introduced me to the other librarians in the scheme, as well as the other author nominees. 

These were:

Chris Callaghan for The Great Chocoplot

Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler for Defender of the Realm

Toby Ibbotson for Mountwood School for Ghosts

MM Vaughan for SIX

Laura Wood for Poppy Pym and the Pharaoh’s Curse 

Chris and I had already become friends on Twitter and Facebook, but I hadn't met him in person. We all had dinner together and sat for ages - eating, taking and laughing. 

Then the following morning, Ivan Limon chauffeured me around three different schools where I met lots of fabulous children. We discussed stories, cat burglaries, spirit animals and planned a heist. I was so impressed with their creativity and enthusiasm. 

For the past few months the children had been reading the nominated books. When finished, they could enter a secret ballot choosing the one they thought was the best.  Over 600 hundred children took part from 27 schools. 

Later that day, I joined the other nominees and we sat on a panel, nervously biting our nails. Who would win? Before the mayor announced the winner, two children from each school were given a certificate - one for showing the most effort, and the other for writing the best book review. A huge congratulations to Eve Connor, from St Paul’s RC Primary School in Billingham. She won The Book Review of the Year Award for her review of Defender of the Realm by Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler. 

Then the mayor announced the winner. And I couldn't believe it - I WON!!!

I think the last time I won anything was a Blue Peter badge when I was eight!!! And before that, it was for a witch's hat when I was three (and in all honesty, my mum made that).

I was over the moon. No - I had gone way past the moon. I was over Jupiter...

The fact that Cat Burglar was chosen by children made the award even more special because these are the very people who I write for. And children can be the toughest audience as they are so honest!!! 

I have been whooping and dancing... and still am!

The whole event was incredibly well run, and it is was amazing to meet so many children passionate about books. They loved taking part in the scheme, and really enjoyed discovering new books and getting the opportunity to discuss them. 

A huge thank you must go to Stockton-on-Tees Library Service.

Since then, a couple of children have sent me their stories inspired from their workshops. 

Some children chose to write book reviews of Cat Burglar. And I love them!!!